I Love Fall

One thing I know for certain, Atlantic Canada is a stunningly beautiful place in the Fall. Between the gorgeous colors and the cooler crisp temperatures, it is my all time favorite time of the year. I currently live in Halifax, Nova Scotia, but I am originally from a beautiful area of Atlantic Canada, Corner Brook, Newfoundland. The West Coast of Newfoundland is home to the amazing Gros Morne National Park, Marble Mountain Ski Hill and this is where I grew up.

Steady Brook on the West Coast of NL

This next picture doesn’t do the view justice, as I was grilling last night, as the sun was going down, I tried to capture the gorgeous sky and the pretty Fall colors. Yes, I keep clear lights on my balcony all year round. Now that it is getting darker much earlier, I like them on when I’m out using my barbecue.

The view from my deck

It’s also a great time for comfort food and great wine. I have a great maple curry chicken pasta dish I made this past week. I’ll share the recipe shortly, yes, that is homemade cheese toast and a robust red to compliment.

Bowtie pasta with cheese toast
Trapiche Reserve Malbec

Speaking of robust reds, my friend Angie bought this Trapiche Reserve Malbec and shared with me. I don’t buy a lot of Malbec, but I enjoyed this very much, and it’s as wonderful on the wallet as it is on the palate, coming in under $15. Plum and spice notes, with a hint of vanilla. We were playing our weekly game of Rummikub but it would also go nicely with food.

Bread & Butter Pinot Noir

I know I’ve written about this wine in the past, but I bought it again last Friday night. I was do some meal prep for my nephew, and was sipping along. This is so smooth and so flavorful, it’s one of my favorite PInot Noir wines and it’s only $22 a bottle. And that really is a great price for a great Pinot.

Maple curry chicken pasta

I don’t know why, but I don’t eat a lot of pasta in the Summer. So last weekend, I made one of my favorites, a maple curry chicken pasta. I cut chicken breast up in bite size pieces and cooked that in olive oil and some curry powder. I used bowtie pasta, but you can use penne. This is so quick and easy. Saute onions and bell peppers, add the cooked pasta & cooked chicken, and pour in maple syrup. Let that simmer. Then I normally add cream and curry paste, but I was out of curry paste, so I used curry powder, heavy cream and some of the pasta water to make the sauce and let that simmer. Oh, and I added bacon. I mean, pasta is so much better with bacon.

You could enjoy this with a hearty white wine, like this one

Trinity Oaks Chardonnay

Or you could try this new red, which I enjoyed last night for the first time

It’s very seldom I see a red wine in a clear bottle. A rule of thumb, any wine, whether red or white, that comes in a clear bottle should be consumed within 3 years. Which is why most whites are in clear bottles, the majority of them should be consumed within 3 years. So I was a little concerned when I got this home and realized it was a 2016. It was on clearance, regular priced at around $17, on for $13.50. Honestly, I feel our liquor store was a little late putting this on clearance.

It was the Bree Merlot from France, and I love Merlot from France, normally. Most of the French Merlot wines I’ve had have been in Bordeaux blends, but I love the Left Bank of Bordeaux where Merlot dominates. And although it was good, I could tell it was starting to show its age. There was a little bit of a bitterness, but otherwise it was tasty. I wish I had found it earlier. But the fruit still shone through and the empty bottle this morning will tell you it went down more than OK.

Till next week, Cheers

Darlene

New Friends & New Favorites

Riley & Maggie

Starting this week’s wine blog with some serious cuteness! 2 of my loves, my nephew Riley and my sister’s Bernadoodle puppy Maggie. Yes, she is a puppy, about 8 months now.

Something exciting happened to me in the past week. I got to meet one of my readers that lives in Ottawa. When you’ve been writing a weekly blog for several years, no matter what the topic, you always question yourself and “are people reading”? That’s why I really appreciate any comments and feedbacks, and the friends and readers that share my wine blog with their family and friends on social media and through email.

Jean from Ottawa

This is Jean from Ottawa, and when I met her I had to give her a hug. I felt I knew her through our mutual friend Angie, and she said she felt she was getting to know me through my wine blog. That’s why I’ve always felt wine is so much more than just a beverage. It helps make a good time even more special and brings friends, old and new, together.

My friend Judy

Jean was visiting so my friend Angie decided to open a special bottle of Champagne that she received for a very special birthday. The above picture is of my friend Judy, who I also met through Angie, enjoying the special champagne.

Veuve Clicquot Champagne

I love a good dry not sweet Champagne, and this one was damn near close to perfect. When you see the word ‘Brut’ on a label, you know the wine inside is not sweet, it’s dry. Champagne is made with 3 grapes, 2 of which are red. Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier with no skin contact. Sparkling wines are made worldwide, but you know when you see the word ‘Champagne’, it came from Champagne France. No other sparkling wine is allowed to use that word, even if it’s made in the same traditional way, using the same grapes. The winemaker, also called the Blender, has the job of combining grapes and vintages so that the ‘House Champagne’ tastes the same year after year.

I tried another awesome white wine this past week.

Director of Fun Richard

This is my friend and the Director of Fun for Atlantic Tours, Richard. Richard came to my building last week and did a talk to some of the residents about upcoming trips. We enjoyed a glass of wine, and one of them was a white Bordeaux. Go to http://www.atlantictours.com and find out about our River Cruise to Bordeaux France in 2022. This fantastic blend consists of Sauvignon Blanc, Semillion and Muscadelle. The 2018 we enjoyed received the honors of Best Value Buy of 2019 by Wine Enthusiast Magazine. With its gorgeous bright flavors, I think Richard told me it’s on sale right now for $15 or $16 right now. Still just around $20 a bottle, it’s a great wine.

Before I get into my new red, and I have tried a couple of new ones recently, I have to tell you about a pork tenderloin recipe that changed my mind on pork tenderloin. Pork tenderloin it’s like a blank canvas, and really needs a lot of flavour thrown at it. If it’s overcooked, it’s pretty boring. I have found a fabulous pork tenderloin recipe.

It starts with butterflying the pork tenderloin. My stuffing was simple. I sauteed onions and apples in butter and oil, with a dash of cinnamon and a drop of maple syrup, and salt and pepper of course. I added that mixture to the bread crumbs and stuffed the tenderloin.

Bacon makes it better

I’m not usually one for bacon wrapped meat, but my friend told me about this recipe and I decided to try it.

Then I put that on the grill.

Always let it rest

I used a meat thermometer to bring it to a medium, 145-degrees. Then I covered it in aluminum foil and let it rest.

Oh. My. God. It’s like the bacon became part of the tenderloin, and was so moist and tasty. I’m addicted.

Now, The new red wine…..

Roscato Dark Red Blend

Richard bought this red to our event, and I really enjoyed it. it’s a fantastic value at $16.99 and it’s a red blend that consists of Merlot and two indigenous grapes from Italy, Teroldego and Lagrein. it’s medium to full bodied, it has been aged in oak, but the fruit definitely shines from the wine. It’s plump and juicy with subtle hints of coffee, vanilla and chocolate, and a perfect wine for meat.

Here’s to a wonderful week of new friends and new favourites. Cheers

Darlene

The Fruits of Their Labour

I love long weekends

This weekend is Labour Day weekend, and I’d like to dedicate this blog to all the workers involved in making our favourite beverage…Wine! A hats off to the workers that we do not see or meet. There are so many people involved in the making of your favorite wine. From the people who plant the vines, cultivate and harvest the grapes, and to those that are involved in the wine-making process, Cheers to you this Labour Day weekend. I’d also like to say a big thank you to the people who stock the shelves and help bring this awesome beverage into our lives.

On another note, I was double-checking to see how to spell Labour Day, and our American friends spell it ‘Labor’, while the British spell it ‘Labour’. And since Canada is still a British colony, I’ll go with Labour. But I digress, let’s talk some wine.

Yes, yes it is!

My friends Fred and Arla are leaving today for Alberta. They have a grandson Sage that’s almost 2, and another one on the way. So they are going up to take care of Sage while their son & daughter-in-law have baby #2. So we had a little get together last night, to have a farewell sip. Fred and Arla are both drinking whites at the moment. This is one my friend Angie bought for the occasion.

Ruffino Pinot Grigio

Ruffino has been making wine for 140 years, so they are pretty darn good at it. This is a bright and lively white wine with great acidity and gorgeous herbal and lemon flavors. It’s a great deal normally under $16, and it’s even reduced further right now. It’s also super food-friendly. Yes, it’s totally acceptable to drink white after Labour Day 🥂

Before I tell you about a great new value red, let’s talk ribs.

It’s not officially a long weekend until I do some baby back ribs. My hometown of Corner Brook Newfoundland had its first Ribfest this year, and I missed it by one weekend. I had recognized one of the participants from Ribfest in Halifax.

Rule #1. Take off that fatty membrane layer at the back of your ribs. It keeps fat in and flavor out.

In my baggie, I put brown sugar, salt, pepper, garlic powder, worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, BBQ sauce and then orange juice. That’s going to marinate all day, and then I’ll slow cook them in my oven for about 2 hours, and finish them off on the grill. I’ll put some grill marks on the ribs but then I’ll move them to indirect heat to finish cooking.

I’ll let you know how they turn out. In the mean time, I love red wine with baby back ribs. My favorite is probably Zinfandel. And here’s one that won’t break the bank. The Pepperwood Grove Zinfandel is rich and juicy and priced under $18. It’s more of a medium bodied wine, compared to those in the $30-$40 price range that are much more full-bodied!

if you’re up for a treat this weekend, you might want to try this Zinfandel.

I presented this wine and one of my last winetasting before Covid.

1000 Stories

Here’s a very interesting and complex Zinfandel wine, 1000 Stories bourbon barrel aged Zinfandel. I’ve had positive and negative experiences with bourbon barrel aged wine. I have had wines where the bourbon overpowers the flavour of the wine, and it’s boozy in the back of your throat. This one doesn’t do that, the bourbon is quite mild, and the price point is about $38 a bottle.

Meanwhile, here’s a great value wine I had this past week.

Santa Rita Cabernet Sauvignon

This is available everywhere, and in Newfoundland Nova Scotia, it’s on sale right now. From one of the top wine-producing regions in Chile, the Maipo Valley is producing some fine tasting wine at extraordinary decent prices. It’s rich and dark in the glass with beautiful flavors of plum, cassis, oak and mint. It’s a fantastic value, and worth the try.

I’m so excited, I have a wine-tasting coming up this Friday night. I’ll tell you all about it next weekend. Till next week, Cheers

Darlene

What’s Hot? A Lot!

Damn, It’s hot!

I read this past week there are almost 300 forest fires burning in British Columbia, and 85 of them are in the Okanogan Valley. The Okanogan Valley is home to some of Canada‘s greatest vineyards and wine producers. When wildfires were burning in places like the Napa Valley in the, I got asked by many people how that would affect the wine.

CTV ran this story this past week on how smoke affects wine and what winemakers can do to help alleviate the bitterness and smoky flavors that these wildfires can cause. You can read the full article here, but make no mistake, wildfires in any winemaking region will affect the taste of the wine.

Humidity drives me crazy

Atlantic Canada is in the middle of an extreme heat wave, with high humidity. Not my favorite weather. 🙄 Yesterday saw temperatures of 29° and with humidity it felt like 39°. I’ve always said, extreme heat is no different than extreme cold, it makes it almost impossible to get outdoors and do anything, unless you have a pool in your backyard, which I do not.

Looking for something cool to drink? Let’s talk some beverages

Black Fly Coolers are awesome

On a really hot day, I like a cool drink, but I don’t like them sweet. This Summer I’ve discovered Black Fly coolers, I have Vodka Grapefruit on the right and Vodka citrus on the left. Decisions Decisions! I also picked it up in Vodka punch. I like the coolers, they are very refreshing but not sweet.

Classic White Wine Spritzer

Did you know, for most of my 20’s, I didn’t like dry wine, red or white. So I drank white wine spritzers, basically red or white wine, with something fizzy added. It can be sparkling water, 7-up or soda water, and lots of ice. And you can include a garnish if you like. And that’s how I initially got introduced to wine. It is still a great cocktail on a Friday evening when it’s really warm out.

Before I tell you about a couple of great red wines I had this past week, I made a homemade peach BBQ sauce. I was at a Farmers market and they had baskets of peaches. So I picked some up and decided to try a peach BBQ sauce. Now the recipe called for bourbon, and I didn’t have any so I substituted tequila.

My peach BBQ sauce

In a saucepan, I combined tomato sauce, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, honey, Worcestershire sauce, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, molasses and chopped peaches in a medium saucepan set over medium heat. I let that cook down for 10 – 15 Minutes. Added the tequila and some Frank’s hot sauce, because I wanted to make it with a bit of zip. Then I put it in the food processor to smoothen out all the chunks. You can also use an immersion blender, which I do have. Let it cool, and put it in a mason jar. It was my first time and it turned out pretty good, if I do say so myself.

Now for a great wine I was given as a gift this past week. My friends Fred & Arla gave me this bottle of wine last weekend and what a treat. The only thing is, NSLC (the liquor store in Nova Scotia) stopped carrying it.

Orca Red Wine

A blend of Grenache (90%) and Syrah (10%), it has an alcohol content of 15%, so be careful, it can knock you on your a$$! It was delicious though, but let me tell you about a wine you can actually get here.

Carpineto Tuscan Red

This was an interesting red, from the Tuscany region of Italy. It’s a Super Tuscan because it’s 70% Sangiovese, and a 30% blend of Cabernet Sauvignon & Merlot. A Super Tuscan is the name they put on wines from Tuscany Italy that are made with ‘non-Italian’ grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. This is under $20 a bottle and it was on sale recently so I picked it up. Let it breathe for a bit. You can get this wine across Canada including Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, and to my Newfoundland friends, it’s on sale there too!

Stay safe everyone. I’ll be here hoping for an end to this heatwave. Autumn is coming up really soon, right? Till next week, Cheers

Darlene

Homeward Bound

Saw lots of rain

Newfoundland folk artist Eddie Coffee wrote and sings a song called ‘Grey Foggy Day’ and of the 10 days I spent in Newfoundland recently, it rained for 8 of them on the West Coast. But it didn’t matter, I got to visit my family and it was for the most part relaxing.

Maggie turned 6 months old and weighs in at an impressive 51 pounds, but the sweetest puppy with the nicest disposition. Too Cute

I did a new recipe in the past week, chicken with a citrus chimichurri. Turned out delicious. I cut chicken breasts in half and pounded them out so they were the same thickness.

Citrus Chimichurri

In the citrus Chimichurri I put olive oil, orange juice, lemon juice and some of the lemon zest, honey, salt, pepper, fresh basil, some thyme, an some fresh parsley, I used both curly and flat leaf. I am growing both flat leaf and curly parsley but my favorite is the curly parsley. I marinated the chicken in half the Chimichurri and basted with the other half.

Curly Parsley on the left

Anyway, the chicken turned out amazing, and I will definitely be making that recipe again.

Delicious

Ok, let’s talk some wine. I normally dedicate this blog to great wines under $25. However, every once in a while I tell you about a treat wine. Well, that’s what I had while in Newfoundland. For my birthday, my sister and my brother-in-law did steaks and someone they do business with, bought 2 bottles of wine. We only went through one the first night.

Chateau St. Jean Cute du Rhone

This was a big bold wine, it’s a GSM blend, Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre. Grenache, which is the grape used for Chateauneuf du Pape, is a boozy grape. It tends to have a high alcohol content. This wine is 14.5% and you could taste it. This company also makes a Chateauneuf du Pape, but it would be a little more expensive. Those wines tend to start at $50 and go up. A great idea to let it sit for 30 minutes, but I would definitely decant this wine. It was a beauty though, and a great value at $25 a bottle. Good tannins and good spice, made it a great pairing for the steak. Apologies to my any readers in Saskatchewan, as I was researching the wine I discovered it’s $32 a bottle there. Yikes. I thought we paid a lot for wine.

If I had my time back, I would have had them open the Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. We enjoyed this wine on my last night there, and it was stunning. You can get this wine across Canada, but not here in Nova Scotia. It’s worth picking up. The closest to us would be either Newfoundland or Quebec.

This is a little more expensive at $30 a bottle and what a treat it was. Deep, rich and intense in flavor, this would be a gorgeous steak wine. But I enjoyed it on my last night in Newfoundland gabbing with my Sister. The wine is mostly Cabernet Sauvignon with some Petite Syrah and Merlot. Rich and delicious. This was definitely my favorite wine of the trip, and worth the treat price tag. These brothers have a unique way of making the Cabernet, they de-stem, but don’t crush the grapes entirely. They let some full berries ferment 8 – 10 days. They say it adds more flavor. I can’t argue with them, it was a great wine.

That’s it for me for this week. I didn’t take a lot of pictures while I was home. I was busy helping my sister set up her new trailer, I have some pictures of that I’ll share next week, and other than that who wants pictures of rain. Till next week, Cheers

Darlene